Figuring out how to find a hit and run driver is complicated, however it is not impossible. A victim’s ability to prosecute in both a court of law and a civil suit in this situation is difficult because they have to identify who the runaway driver was. Witnesses of a hit and run accident are one of a victim’s best resources for winning the case.
If the police are not able to track down the culprit due to lack of evidence or leads, then there is no way to seek compensation for the injuries sustained. However, there certainly is a case if there is enough evidence to point to the person that fled the scene of the crime.
What Happens in a Hit and Run Car Accident
While the cause of a hit and run car accidents are similar to regular car accidents, how to go about resolving it can prove more difficult. If you were just the victim of a hit and run accident, we recommend taking the following steps:
Stay Calm and Stay Safe
The most important thing you should do when involved in a car accident is make sure that everyone is okay. Once you have assessed the situation, you should immediately get to a safe location (side of the road) so that you do not put yourself in further danger. Other drivers are often times unaware of objects in the road or see them too late, this could potentially cause another accident.
Call the Police
Since this was a hit and run accident, you are going to want the police at the site of the accident. There are many reasons that you may want the police at the site, they can gather information on the crash and speak with eye-witnesses. The most important reason to have the police at the scene of the accident in this case though is to prove that the other driver fled the scene.
Proving to a police officer at the scene can become extremely important if you plan on suing the driver that fled from the accident. Having that information on a police report will becoming priceless during an examination by a judge and jury.
Another huge reason to inform the police is because they genuinely care and want to help victims of car crashes. If anyone was injured in the accident, they will also inform paramedics of the crash to get them on the site. Car accident injuries can be severe, so addressing these injuries as soon as possible can be crucial.
Call Your Insurance Company
Whenever involved in a car accident, it is best to let your car insurance company know about it as soon as possible. If you can contact them immediately after the accident, that would be the most beneficial to you. Often times insurance company representatives will want to come down to the scene of the accident to make a report. In the circumstance that the other driver fled the scene, this evidence can be used to prove the negligence of the other driver.
Get Contact Information from any Witnesses
Be sure to get the contact information of any people that may have witnessed the accident. As explained earlier in this article, having a witness be able to give their view of the situation can not only help you prove guilt but track down the hit and run driver. Maybe a witness saw the color, make, or model of the car, or better yet maybe they got the license plate number.
There have been many situations where the witness of an accident has played a crucial role in discovering who the fleeing driver was. While this is not the sole information that a judge will use to determine the identity of the driver, it make a big difference.
Important – Discuss as little of the accident as possible without a lawyer present. As important as it is to know whether or not someone was able to get the licenses plate number, you do not want to disclose too much information.
For more information on what to do after a car accident in Arizona, click here.
Penalties for a Hit and Run
The state of Arizona does not have very lenient laws when it comes to hit and run accidents as explained in A.R.S 22-661, 22-662, and 22-663. People involved in a vehicle accident are obliged by law to stop at the scene safely, fleeing the scene not only makes the driver seem guilty of causing the accident but is also considered a crime.
If found guilty, the punishment for a driver involved in an accident that has a wrongful death or serious injury a Class three (3) felony. The charges are raised to a Class two (2) felony for the party fleeing that caused the accident.
In cases where there was no serious injury or fatality, fleeing a scene is still a felony, but reduced to a Class five (5). When there is no injury to the person at all but there is damage to the car and either driver still leaves, a person can still be charged with a Class two (2) misdemeanor.
Sometimes, theses hit and run accidents can even result in additional criminal charges. If the police have reason to believe or have evidence that any party involved in the accident was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they can perform a screening. Substances found through that screening can also lead to additional charges, like a DUI.
Perhaps the seriousness of the situation or immediate shock and panic after the accident causes some drivers flee the scene. Regardless of the reason, it is important for the accident victims to be able to seek justice and a compensation for costs incurred due to the accident.
Reporting a Hit and Run to Insurance
In addition to criminal prosecution in a court of law, the driver can also be held accountable in civil court for the injuries that the driver sustained along with any other damages to the vehicle and property from the accident. These types of claims are typically covered by the driver’s car insurance company.
Before filing the claim, it is important to collect as much information as possible. This includes:
- police and witness reports
- pictures of injuries and all damage done to property
- medical documentation and doctor’s reports
- cost of medical expenses and property damage
- time missed from work and activities due to the accident and income lost as a result
Any additional information about the hit and run accident should be itemized and recorded in order to give to the insurance company to fully understand and evaluate your case to give you the fairest settlement. It is also possible to add pain and suffering to the settlement.
Once all of this is collected, a claim is submitted to the insurance company and negotiations begin. The insurance company determines an amount for an initial offer to compensate the bicyclist for the accident. Oftentimes, insurance companies tend to negotiate the lowest price possible in order to minimize their losses.
It is important to have representation experienced in negotiating with big insurance companies. An attorney that understands insurance company tactics can be a great advantage to you and your case. Call the JacksonWhite Personal Injury team and have the right people on your side.
How JacksonWhite Can Help
If police have been able to identify and prosecute the runaway driver or have a suspect, call JacksonWhite Personal Injury Attorney Jared Everton. He and his legal team have the experience and dedication to win you justice. Don’t let medical expenses and time lost at work due to injury affect your life more than it already has.
Call our Personal Injury team at (480) 467-4392 to discuss your case today.